Thu, 5 January 2023 at 2:27 am GMT
Rail strikes across the UK are set to escalate today as drivers begin a new walkout – meaning some areas will have no trains at all.
Although 48 hours of industrial action by the RMT union has now come to an end, members of the Aslef union are now striking as part of a long-running dispute over pay.
Drivers at 15 rail companies are involved, and here is how commuters will be affected:
• Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Northern, Southern, Southeastern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express will run no trains all day
• Rail links to the UK’s two busiest airports will be cut, with Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express shutting down
• Trains will run in Wales, most of Scotland, and on parts of the South Western Railway network
• Services are also going to operate on the London Overground and Elizabeth Line
Overall, it’s estimated that just 20% of normal services will run – with passengers facing a third consecutive day of extensive disruption during the first working week of 2023.
And further strikes are looming, with the RMT set to stage another 48-hour strike on Friday and Saturday.
The Aslef union represents train drivers, and its general secretary Mick Whelan has warned that additional walkouts are “inevitable”.
Threatening that strike action could escalate even further, Mr Whelan said: “The situation is getting worse and my members now want to go harder and faster because of the lack of progress.”
He added: “It is inevitable that more strikes will be held and probably escalate.”
Rishi Sunak is considering measures that could allow employers to sue trade unions and sack workers, according to a report in The Times.
It’s claimed that this new law would apply to six sectors: the health service, railways, education, fire services, border security and nuclear energy.
The newspaper also suggests that a significant pay rise for public sector workers is also under consideration in an attempt to end the industrial action.
Yesterday, the prime minister insisted that his door is always open, adding: “You’ll hear more from the government in the coming days about our approach.”
And while Mr Sunak said people should have the right to strike, he warned: “That has to be balanced with the right of the British public to go about their lives without suffering undue disruption in the way we’ve seen recently.”